Central Patagonia

Situated between 42 and 46 degrees south latitude, Central Patagonia lies on the threshold between the more traveled areas of northern Patagonia, and the unqualified emptiness to the south. Positioned at the head of over 1,000 kilometers of untamed wilderness, this transition occurs surprisingly quickly. Once away from the northwestern portion of the province, where the trappings of civilization and tourism are never terribly distant, one enters a land that has largely preserved its Patagonian frontier element, a wild sparsely populated territory where the pace of life slows perceptibly and tourists are notably scarcer. This is quite fittingly where Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid and Etta Place, the most notorious “menage trois” in American history, chose to homestead in their epic run from the law, and much of the region still retains the frontier feeling sought by these outlaws over 100 years ago.

The name “Chubut” itself means “transparent” in the indigenous Tehuelche tongue, and is an apt description for a province full of gin-clear lakes and powerful rivers that course through remote mountainous areas, often blanked with exotic Valdivian rainforests. An incredible diversity of fishing and scenery can also be found here – from technical nymph fishing in spectacular Los Alerces National Park, to desert creeks meandering over the nearby steppe, to sight-fishing for big trout cruising in small lakes ensuring that anglers will not soon grow bored with the unique variety of environments offered by the region. In addition to the healthy populations of rainbow, brown and brook trout that inhabit the area’s waterways, Chinook salmon from the Pacific have even established several modest runs, adding even more dynamism to the area.

Sight fishing in luscious Los Alerces Park.

The Upside: Many waterways to choose from; good dry fly fishing, abundant access & tourist services.
The Downside: More fishermen; average fish is somewhat smaller.
What to bring: a fast-action 4-7 weight rod with floating line is ideal for most situations. Lake fishing & larger rivers may require heavier rods and heavy sinking lines.
When to go: Trout fishing is good all season long. Early season (Nov-Dec) brings good lake fishing, but is more prone to high water and erratic weather. Many smaller tributaries fish best in with high water, however. Summer (Jan-Feb) means good hatches and easy wading, but is the height of tourist season. Fall (Mar-Apr) brings brown trout migrations from lakes, but low water and cold weather can make things challenging.
Primary Towns: Esquel, Corcovado, Rio Pico

In part 4, we’ll describe Southern Patagonia.